Thursday, May 01, 2008

Somalia: Explosion, gunfire kill 4 Ethiopian troops, 2 civilians in southwestern Somalia

Wed. April 30, 2008 02:20 am.-
By Bonny Apunyu

(SomaliNet) Witnesses in Somalia said on Tuesday that an explosion in southwestern Somalia killed four Ethiopian troops and the subsequent gunfire killed two civilians.

Asha Madey Abdi, a local resident said the explosion Monday afternoon in Baidoa, 155 miles southwest of the capital, also wounded two Ethiopian soldiers.

The Ethiopian troops had opened fire after the explosion, killing two civilians and wounding another two. It was not clear what caused the blast, Sheik Muqtar Roble said.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian troops supporting the shaky transitional government come under daily attack from Islamic insurgents, whom they kicked out of the capital in December 2006. The insurgents, who vow to fight an Iraq-style insurgency, receive support from Ethiopia's archenemy Eritrea.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991. It is impoverished, riven between warring clans and awash with weapons. -AFP

Somalia: Four nations introduce Somalia piracy resolution with U.N Security Council

Tue. April 29, 2008 05:31 am
By Bonny Apunyu

(SomaliNet) In what urges maritime powers to fight piracy off Somalia's coast and authorizes them to arrest pirates in Somali waters, four countries introduced a draft resolution at the U.N. Security Council on Monday.

According to the the resolution is aimed at combating a surge in ship hijackings for ransom in the waters off the coast of lawless Somalia that have made them one of the world's most dangerous shipping zones.

Somali pirates, in the latest reported incident, last week seized a Spanish fishing boat with its 26-member crew and later freed it for a ransom of $1.2 million.

The draft resolution, obtained by Reuters, urges states that seek to use commercial sea routes off the Horn of Africa state "to increase their coordination to deter acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea."

A source said the resolution was formally introduced at a closed Security Council session by the United States, Britain and France as well as Panama, under whose flag many merchant vessels sail.

It would authorize countries to enter Somali territorial waters and use "all necessary means to identify, deter, prevent and repress acts of piracy and armed robbery" by boarding, searching and seizing suspect vessels and arresting the pirates.

A condition is that states taking such action should be cooperating with Somalia's embattled interim government and should have notified U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Meanwhile, diplomats declined to say when the resolution would be passed, saying there were complex legal issues involved.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said piracy off Somalia had become more frequent and more brazen. "The time has come for the Security Council to respond to the situation," he told reporters. "The government of Somalia is not in a position to deal with this problem by itself."

The Somali government had itself written to the Security Council in February requesting action to secure its waters. The International Maritime Organization, a U.N. agency, had also twice written to Ban last year about the problem.

The deteriorating situation in Somalia has recently galvanized the Security Council into action. Britain is preparing a separate resolution calling for a strengthening of the U.N. presence in Somalia, a nation where many countries remain loath to send peacekeepers.

Somalia has been without an effective central government since the 1991 toppling of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, allowing anarchy and violence to flourish.

Kidnapping and piracy are lucrative businesses and most Somalis treat their captives well in anticipation of a ransom.

South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, current Security
Council president, said the reaction of members had been generally supportive and the resolution would now be given to experts to study.

The draft calls on member states who might be involved to ensure that suspected pirates are prosecuted.

It also requests Ban to report back within three months of adoption on how the resolution is being put into effect and within six months on whether it might be possible to extend it to other areas affected by piracy.-Reuters

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